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po8crg comments on Disputing Definitions - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 February 2008 12:15AM

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Comment author: po8crg 24 March 2012 01:56:31PM 14 points [-]

The problem is that it begs the question - using "unborn baby" defines it into the same ethical category as a born baby, different only in location. When you dig down enough, usually that's the point at dispute - is the thing growing in a womb entitled to rights in the manner of a (born) baby, or is it not so entitled.

There are some property-rights thinkers who do hold that it is the location that matters, i.e. the baby is trespassing on the mother's womb, and she's entitled to use deadly force to remove it, but that's not the usual argument.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 24 March 2012 02:25:07PM 4 points [-]

Upvoted entirely for using "begs the question" correctly.

But, to respond to the comment -- there is also the position that the extent to which we should act to prevent my life from ending depends significantly on the costs of sustaining my life and who bears those costs, and since the cost equation typically changes significantly for an 35-week-old fertilized egg and a 45-week-old fertilized egg, it's reasonable to reach different conclusions about what acts are justified in those two cases.

And one can adopt that position whether the 35-week-old fertilized egg is called an "unborn baby," a "fetus", a "uterine growth", a "upcoming blessed event", a "little leech," or whatever. (All of which are terms I've heard pregnant women use to describe their fertilized egg at various stages of gestation.

The same principle suggests that we don't treat a 45-week-old fertilized egg the same as a thousand-week-old fertilized egg.

But I agree with your implicit point that many thinkers on the subject, as well as many speakers on the subject who may or may not be doing much thinking at the time they speak, respond primarily to the connotations of those terms.

Comment author: snewmark 23 December 2016 05:45:34PM 0 points [-]

Upvoted entirely for using "begs the question" correctly.

Ha, did you really praise the proper use of an ancient expression in the midst of a definition debate?

(Sorry about posting this 4 years later, I just had to get that out.)